Today’s difficult question is not the one set for the June IWSG post. I’ve pretty much covered that one before. So I’m doing another, which I hope you’ll find interesting.

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This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post, in which we share our successes and failures as writers, our insecurities, in fact. Anyone can join in, just sign up at the IWSG Sign-up page, write a blog post on the first Wednesday of the month, and go back to that sign up page to link with everyone else–or a goodly sample. Our host is Alex J Cavanaugh, and cohosting this month are:

That Difficult Question – what will happen when I die?

February’s IWSG posed a difficult question for me. Sensitive, at any rate. Reading some of your responses, I skipped many details, but remarked several where people had lost partners, and all the support that gives. We were reminded that death can happen any time. One of these days, it’s going to be mine.

And you know what worries me most? First – who will care for the guinea pigs, both short and long term. Second – what will happen to my books?

Moving my home was a good thing to do, but I lost my support network for the guinea pigs, and so far I haven’t really replaced it. So the first of those worries is still a work in progress.

What will happen to my books?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and maybe one of my nieces will be interested in at least doing the work that involves receiving the royalties. I must broach the subject with my illustrator (who is family). I think she deserves to rake in any income after my death!

But… given how much the book sales rely on my marketing, and the social presence on the net, how will that happen?

This blog and the three book websites (Princelings, Viridian and White Water Landings) are all self-hosted. When the hosting plans run out of money, the whole system disappears. Domain names lapse. Gone.

Free websites

The answer, as I’ve thought for several years, is one of the free websites. Blogger or WordPress.

So all of you reading this on free WordPress and Blogger sites can rest assured (fairly assured) that even if you don’t do anything to your blog ever again, it will still be there for somebody to stumble across, or for it to show up in a Google search for your author name.

Which is one reason I have a Blogger site for Princelings Publications, my publishing ‘company’. The other reason is to have a blogger-name for your blogger site comments 🙂 But the options for layout of the books and keeping it updated are less than–I was going to say adequate, but that’s only because I want the books front and centre, and Blogger puts blogging front and centre. Makes sense, really.

And then I realised my old Jemima Pett site, which I left in 2014 when I moved here, was still there, just as I’d left it, with a redirect to here smacking any visitors in the face.

I had a free WordPress site already waiting for me, even if it does have adverts all over it. That would be there forever, unless WordPress do some tidying up of inactive sites (and I suspect it uses username logins to judge that).

The new Legacy site is Jemima Pett’s Portfolio

It didn’t take long, because I had in my head what I wanted to do:

  • List each book with its buying links
  • Group them by series
  • Display them on the front/landing page
  • Have my bio somewhere handy
  • Maybe have some featured blog posts so people found out more about me and my writing career.

It took me two days to get it to a tidy and usable state, although there’s always more you can do. I could add some ‘featured posts’ from here to update it since 2014, although I’ve decimated the old content.

Jemima Pett's portfolio
You can scroll down the front page to see all my book covers

If you want to do a legacy site like this

  • Choose a theme that will put your covers on the front page – designs for photographers and ‘other creatives’ do that
  • Make sure it will display your images in portrait form (book shaped) – mine gave the options of landscape, portrait and square
  • Use the ‘Portfolio’ options in WP to make a project for each of your books
  • If you have your books in series; set up each series as a Project Type, and make sure the book pages are labeled with it
  • Set up the ‘portfolio template’ to put your projects on a page called e.g. My Books.
  • Set up the Landing page option to a static page – My Books.
  • Do all the other tidying up of existing pages and blog posts that you want.

There are several Themes current which I considered, and I went with Espied, partly because it was by the maker of a theme I’d used before, and they described how to use it well. I also looked at Mayland, Apostrophe 2, Rowling and a couple of others. Anything with a grid of photos on the front, basically.

Other legacy issues

It’s a long list. Most of it applies to everyone with any assets. You may still be living in student accommodation, but you have music and books, don’t you?

Facebook has a legacy system, I’ve seen blogs about it. I’m not sure about Twitter and others. Most online places you’ll just fade away from, but people getting notification of your birthday when they know you’ve gone ages ago can be painful.

Leave instructions for whoever will look after your finances so they can do so, including access codes (most banks will not worry about security questions if they are dealing with a bereavement), and how to access your royalty payments. If you leave them specifically to someone else, they’ll need your username and passwords. If you have physical book stock, decide what you want done with that.

Make a will. My brother didn’t make a will, despite having been divorced and separated. Madness.

Do it soon

I hope to live for a long time yet, and I hope to have enough warning of impending doom to put all my stuff in order. But you never know what’s around the corner. A mad driver. An out of control bus… Don’t worry about death, but make your preparations soon.

A Difficult Question | #IWSG
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14 thoughts on “A Difficult Question | #IWSG

  • 1 June, 2022 at 7:16 am

    A very sensible post Jemima, in the last two years we have been involved in executor duties, once directly and one in an advisory capacity… It’s very complicated… especially if you don’t make a will and also worse if it a sudden death. Yes make a will as soon as possible, I am sure you have. Now you have me thinking about the blog after death 💜

  • 1 June, 2022 at 9:59 am

    Your Jemima Pett’s Portfolio link takes us to a WordPress notice where anyone can claim the domain name, Jemima 😱😱😱

  • 1 June, 2022 at 11:48 am

    Great ideas on how to have your blog or website continue after your death. I’m glad mine is hosted on Blogger. I hope I’ll get a blog partner to carry on my blog’s mission at some point in the future because I’m already in my 60’s and need to think about that one of these days.

  • 1 June, 2022 at 2:45 pm

    A painful but important post. I like your idea about the free site—I should set up something like that, for the same reasons. And the stuff missing from my will is the literary executorship. I mean, my boys inherit, but I think I need to add a document with information about where everything is and how to manage the assets. Thanks for the reminder.

    I remain deeply grateful that we had finally finished and signed our wills before the trip to Patagonia. If not for that, Dave would have died without a will, and we’d have lost a fair bit to the CA courts going through probate.

  • 1 June, 2022 at 3:13 pm

    Good point. We don’t know how long we have or what will happen after we are gone. Smart to do a legacy site. I do think Blogger sometimes takes down inactive sites if a spammer doesn’t hack it first.

  • 1 June, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    I have thought about this as well and my solution was to let family know they can just pull everything down if they want. It was cool to have people enjoy my stuff while I was alive, but they don’t need to keep up with it. Just celebrate that I did something like finish a book.

  • 1 June, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    I’ve been ‘putting my house in order’ little by little, even though I’m only in my 50s. I even filed a transfer of death deed, so my house wouldn’t have to go through probate. I bought a book especially made for listing those types of things for family. Now I just need to fill it out.

    Anne R. Allen has a good post about end of life and authors.

  • 1 June, 2022 at 7:05 pm

    You got me thinking. A lot of good advice there.

  • 1 June, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    This is all excellent advice. Thank you all! Especially you, Jemima, for starting the chatter on the subject. All best to you!

  • 2 June, 2022 at 3:04 am

    I can honestly say that till I read your post, I’d never thought about what would happen to my writing after I die. I’ve thought about what would happen to the journals I kept as a teen–I hope I have enough warning before I die to burn them–but not my writing. I’ll have to ponder that.

  • 2 June, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    An inspiring post Jemima 🙂 Thank you for sharing this!

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